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Kiwi retailers push back against GST loophole

New Zealand’s retail industry has launched eFairness NZ,  a comprehensive campaign to influence the NZ government to drop its GST threshold on foreign online purchases from NZ$400 to just NZ$25.

FairnessThe eFairness NZ campaign is a combined initiative of leading retail trade association Retail NZ, and Booksellers NZ.

The campaign seeks to engage retailers by providing text templates and encouraging them to:
– Write to the Prime Minister, Minister of Revenue and the Minister of Customs and let them know how much the issue is affecting their business;
– Write to their local MP and tell them how much the loophole is hurting the local shopping centre and community;
– Use the #eFairnessNZ hashtag on social media to tell the world about the impact the tax loophole is having on their business;
– Make a submission to the Customs and Excise Act review;
– Add their signature to an online petition;
– Tell their customers how important the issue is if New Zealand retailers are to survive in a competitive world.

GST is charged at 15 percent in New Zealand. Retail NZ public affairs general manager Greg Harford claims the NZ government is missing out on NZ$200 million in duty and GST on low-value goods. The campaign elaborates on what this could equate to in terms of contributing to the public good  – for instance 4345 new primary school teachers or more than 9000 hip-replacements per year.

In Australia its estimated that somewhere between $600 million and $1 billion is foregone via the $1000 GST-free threshold.

While much of the debate in Australia is lacking in strategic input from retailer associations, and has not moved on from a complaint about ‘level playing fields’, the NZ campaign is far more sophisticated in that it paints the issue as a community problem rather than a retailers’ problem, referring to threats to town centres, job losses, and erosion of the tax base and what that is costing New Zealand.


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